With life expectancy rising and more people starting families later, around 1.3 million people in England and Wales now have caring responsibilities for both older and younger dependents.1 If this sounds familiar, you’re likely one of many people who make up the ‘sandwich generation’.

Commonly aged between 45 to 54, the sandwich generation often provides financial assistance and physical care for their parents – but they also have children to look after. Increasingly this includes young adults still living at home and in need of financial support to kickstart their futures. These additional responsibilities can be both costly and reduce your ability to take on paid work, making it harder to save long-term.

If you’re part of the sandwich generation, your financial planning might look different from older generations who, at your age, likely had fewer expenses and more to save for retirement. But you’re not alone. It’s estimated that two-thirds of people in the UK will care for a loved one at some point in time, and half of all people will provide care before they turn 50.2

Here are some considerations to help you become financially resilient when you’re not just taking care of yourself, but others too.

1. Join up your financial planning with family members

We all have unique situations – there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to financial planning. Whatever your financial situation, being transparent with your spouse, partner, family or support unit can help. Talking about your plans – and backup plans – could help you and your loved ones to make the future you want a reality. Check out the Money and Pensions Service Talk Money Week website for helpful guides to get you started.

If you manage finances collectively, make sure your planning considers all the current and future circumstances that could impact your family’s income as a whole. For example, if one of you becomes unable to work, or any future caring expenses for ageing parents. This might include speaking with working adult children or extended family living at home, to help them understand how they fit into your family’s wider financial goals.

2. Think long-term

Thinking ahead can help you plan how to best support your loved ones when they might need it most. Try writing a list of things you might want to save for or need to prepare for, like parents going into care, university fees or housing costs for your kids, and goals for your own future. While some people in the sandwich generation might have to consider working for longer or retiring later, it’s important to think about the lifestyle you want when you stop working. Ask yourself what actions your 80-year-old self would be grateful for you taking now.

A clear, long-term vision can motivate you to take positive and responsible steps for the future. In fact, in our financial wellbeing research we found that those with a more concrete vision of their future had less debt and better emergency and long-term savings. Our best life tool will help you picture what your life could look like and tips to help you get there.

3. Review your budget

With a lot of things to save for, prioritising is key. You could set yourself mini targets to reach by certain points in time for different needs – these should be realistic in terms of your budget. Consider your income and how much you can afford to save each month. It might help to create different ‘pots’ for specific purposes or people. This could be anything from your own retirement, to funding further education, care, housing deposits, weddings and more. Read our budgeting methods article to find a planning method that best suits you.

You should also consider building an emergency fund for unexpected scenarios, like losing your job or a boiler breakdown. But it’s also important to factor in money for things you enjoy.

Talking to a financial adviser could help you understand how to balance your competing financial priorities – there’s likely to be a cost for this. If it’s something you’d like to consider, you can find an adviser through the Government’s MoneyHelper website.

A smiling Asian woman enjoying drinking tea while her loving daughter is embracing her.

4. Make sure you’re getting what you’re entitled to

Don’t miss out on any discounts or benefits. For example, households with children might be eligible for child benefit or free childcare hours, depending on your circumstances. If you’re providing care for any relatives or loved ones, there’s different government help that might be available, such as carer’s allowance and carer’s credit.

In the workplace, you’re entitled to one week unpaid carer’s leave every 12 months, subject to conditions.3 You should check your employment contract in case your work offers any additional benefits or leave in this scenario. Some employers also offer discounts and deals through voucher schemes which might mean spending less on groceries or luxury items.

If your parents are still able to carry out babysitting duties, you might be able to pass over National Insurance credits to them to help boost their State Pension – find out more in our article.

5. Think smart when it comes to debt

Debt isn’t to be taken lightly, but it’s not always a bad thing either. Taking on a mortgage, for example, can give your family the stability of a place to grow and spend time together. But be careful with what kind of debt you’re taking on. If you're struggling with debt or loan repayments, there are many sources of help out there, from Citizens Advice or local Credit Unions.

6. Don’t forget about yourself

Currently, around 8% of the UK population are providing informal care.4 If you’re one of them, remember to think about your own future, too.

People in mid-life who have caring responsibilities are more likely to reduce the amount of paid work they do so that they can provide care. This is also more common across women than men. But reducing your paid work might in turn reduce the amount you have in any workplace pension. It could also lessen your National Insurance contributions which influences your State Pension. Speaking with a financial adviser ahead of reducing your paid work could help you see the bigger picture and still save for your future while supporting your loved ones.

7. Build a strong support system

In 2019 the Office for National Statistics found that more than one in four carers in the sandwich generation reported symptoms of mental ill-health.1 Just as everyone has different financial circumstances, everyone’s experience of caring varies too.

Having a support network can help you through challenging times. This might include talking to friends and family, going to counselling, or speaking to people in similar situations through online forums or charities like CarersUK. Being open about your situation can help you to build long-term connections.

It’ll also empower you to get help if you need it and know where to find that assistance during difficult times.

Remember there are free, impartial places you can get financial guidance, like MoneyHelper and Citizen’s Advice.

Pulling together as a family

Even if you’re not a member of the ‘sandwich generation’ now, you could be in the future. But it’s not something to be feared. Looking after loved ones can be challenging, but  rewarding. Encourage your family to come together to be a source of support and motivation for each other.

Remember to take care of yourself while also caring for others. Taking steps to strengthen your family’s financial wellbeing can help to build resilience in your own mental wellbeing, too. Use these tips to focus on your long-term plans, and your vision for yourself and your loved ones.

Learn more about the sandwich generation and other evolving factors impacting over 50s in our Second 50 report.

  1. More than one in four sandwich carers report symptoms of mental ill-health. Data source, Office for National Statistics, January 2019, accessed May 2024.
  2. Will I Care: The Likelihood of Being a Carer in Adult Life. Data source, CarersUK, November 2019.
  3. Unpaid carer’s leave. Data source, GOV.UK, accessed May 2024.
  4. Family resource survey: financial year 2022 to 2023. Data source, GOV.UK, updated March 2024.


Financial wellbeing Insights